To be honest, I was kind of wondering the same thing when I showed up there for my overnight stay at the Fly Inn Lodge.
Because researching destinations?
That’s not really a thing I do.
Luckily, the lodge hooked me up with this big table o’ brochures.
And this pile o’ cinnamon rolls.
Because I can’t really be expected to do any research without at least two to three cinnamon rolls in my system.After spending my morning perusing brochures and stuffing my face full of icing and pastry, I learned that Newfane is located on Lake Ontario.
And I was all like, “What? We have Lake Ontario in New York State? Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Honestly, you guys, I’ve lived in this state for most of my life, and I had no idea. I thought Lake Ontario was only in, you know, Ontario. I should really think about looking at a map sometime.
I also learned that Newfane is famous for booze and ghosts. And I can’t really think of two better reasons to visit a place, can you?
You see, Newfane is smack-dab in the middle of the Niagara wine region.
Newfane also happens to be smack-dab in the middle of Niagara ghost region.
Okay, so that’s not really a thing. But the town does have a number of famous local ghosts. And I love visiting places that have fun ghost stories. That is until later at night when I can’t sleep because THE GHOSTS ARE GOING TO COME AND EAT MY FACE OFF.
So, needless to say, I was pretty excited for my day of adventuring in Newfane. Excited and terrified and kind of worried for my face. I mean, I like my face, you guys. I’d rather it not be eaten off by ghosts.
Back in its heyday, Olcott Beach was quite the summer destination. Families and couples visiting nearby Niagara Falls would come here for its Coney Island-like attractions and fancy-pants hotel.
The hotel has long since been demolished, but there are still a number of charming attractions located near the beach.
There’s an old-timey carousel park, which was, sadly, closed on the day I was visiting as I was there right before Memorial Day. But I still poked around and took a bunch of photos through the gate like a creeper until someone came out and told me it was closed.
There’s an adorable little boardwalk with lots of cute shops selling trinkets and ice cream.
And there’s the very lovely and leafy Krull Park which offers good views of the Lake below.
The beach itself turned out to be kind of small and dingy.
But on the plus side, I’m pretty sure it was TOTALLY HAUNTED.
You see, as I was walking on the beach, I managed to step on a huge fish skeleton which worked its way through my flip-flop and put a hole in my foot. And it just so happens that I had spent the day before fishing on the Niagara River.
Or huge-fish-ghost coming to haunt me and give me fish-tetanus?
I think we all know the answer.
(And the answer is HUGE-FISH-GHOST. There are no coincidences, people!)
Van Horn MansionVan Horn Mansion.
The mansion was home to one of the first bigwigs of Newfane, Judge James Van Horn, and the site of Newfane’s first town meeting back in the 1820’s. It also happens to be the home to Newfane’s most famous ghost, the first wife of James Van Horn, Malinda.
Malinda was said to have haunted the grounds of the house for decades – clomping up and down the steps, freaking out the neighbors by showing up in the windows, and running across the street every once in a while to make cars swerve out of the way. You know, typical ghost stuff.
In the early 1990s, Malinda’s body was discovered by cadaver-sniffing dogs, and she was buried in a small garden to the side of the house. Things have been pretty quiet around the mansion ever since then. Has her soul finally come to rest? Or is she just waiting for a nice face to chew off? Who is to say, really?
The mansion itself has been beautifully restored and houses a number of nifty displays of cool, old-timey stuff.
I was lucky enough to get an impromptu tour with a member of the local historical society who happened to be at the house on the day I arrived. I didn’t see any ghosts while I was in there, but I did see some creepy baby dolls. And I think we can all agree that the first step is creepy baby dolls, and the second step is ghosts.
Murphy’s OrchardMurphy’s Orchard is not the countless fruit trees or the billions and billions of fruit jams available for purchase.
It’s the concealed room under one of the barns, which was used to hide escaped slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. You can’t go in the room, but you can peek into it from above. And even though it’s all dusty and cobwebby and dark, I have to say it was a truly powerful experience.
Especially when you have signs like this on the wall nearby.
In addition to the underground room, the barn houses informational displays about the Underground Railroad and the McClew family, who originally lived on the farm, as well as a hodge-podge of old farm equipment.
After poking around the different displays, I headed into the orchard’s tea room for afternoon tea, where I was served a big double-decker tray of mini-sandwiches and pastries and daintily sliced fruit.
Which quickly became a big double-decker tray of empty pastry wrappers and leftover jam.
I’m not sure how that happened.
I suspect ghosts.
The Winery at Marjim ManorThe Winery at Marjim Manor promised both kind of spirits – the wine kind and the ghost kind — as the winery is believed to be haunted. It’s even been featured on Ghost Hunters and Travel Channel’s Most Terrifying Places in America.
I didn’t run into any ghosts while I was there. I did run into cats, though.Which I think we can all agree is much better than ghosts because even if they do try to chew off your face they will look totally adorable while doing it.
The wine, for the most part, was a bit too fruity and sweet for my taste. But I did enjoy this one as it was a bit drier than the others I tried. And BECAUSE CATS, OKAY?
Blackbird Cider Works
I was pretty excited about visiting the newly opened Blackbird Cider Works as I am a huge fan of cider. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s like apple juice but alcoholic! Plus, it makes me feel all fancy and British when I drink it.
Not only was the cider delicious, but the staff at the cidery was super nice and welcoming and put up with my million-billion questions and kept pouring cider into my glass until I was like, “Whoa, guys, I have to drive home. And are the blackbirds on the bottles watching me? Because I’m pretty sure they’re watching me. Ahh, blackbird ghosts, you guys, BLACKBIRD GHOSTS! Or maybe I just need some water.”
Baehr’s Ice Cream Cottage
Besides I was pretty sure I needed something to soak up all that cider. And what better way to do that than with a bowl of ice cream the size of my head?
Which quickly became an empty bowl of ice cream.
Again, I’m pretty sure the ghosts did that, you guys.
Totally the ghosts.Have you ever visited a place that was haunted? Did you see any ghosts? P.S. My day trip in Newfane, NY, was pretty much self-guided and self-funded, but I would like to thank the wonderful peeps at Niagara Tourism & Convention Center for inviting me to come hang out for the day and The Fly Inn Lodge for putting me up for the night (and for all the cinnamon rolls!). Also, a big thanks to all the kind people at the sites I visited who answered my ridiculous questions and didn’t look at me like I was too crazy when I kept on going on and on about the ghosts.